Marketing Ad Spend B2B Marketing

Brands must match privacy-forward strategies with relevant advertising

By Simon Collister | Director, the human understanding lab



The Drum Network article

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November 18, 2022 | 6 min read

As consumers become increasingly considered about sharing data, Unlimited Group’s Simon Collister argues it might be the catalyst for more effective advertising, for The Drum's Data & Privacy Deep Dive.


Advertisers should leverage new privacy expectations to reach the right audiences / Ricardo Arce via Unsplash

With everything in life, context is king. The saturation of advertising on the web has reached a fever pitch, meaning consumers now demand more contextual and relevant advertising that matches the page they’re on. This will be a hard-fought battle for advertisers in a third-party cookie-less world.

Current dogma around the issue says that marketers should focus on first-party data, centralizing it and letting it paint a better picture of who you’re engaging with and what content and advertising might be best for them.

Using data such as digital interactions, purchase history, and personalized preferences, brands can create ads, content and experiences tailored to individual interests. However, this presents several challenges.

Cookies are canceled

Consumers are taking much greater control of their personal data than ever before. Statista claims that 26% of people worldwide disabled third-party cookies in their browsers in 2021; 29% changed their default privacy settings on their phones. This could mean that up to 55% of advertisers’ traffic is completely untraceable.

At a brand level too, the pivot to data presents a steep learning curve for chief marketing officers (CMOs). According to a survey by Realise Unlimited, four in five UK CMOs (79%) believe they are between two and five years away from achieving best-in-class data analytics.

While the preparedness for change is entirely called for, it’s important to recognize that CMOs very likely have limited time, ability or interest in tackling such data challenges. So, where do CMOs go from here? This is where it becomes crucial to identify strategic partners to help address the practical challenges brands face in a cookie-less and privacy-first world.

A new era of advertising

In comes Apple which, despite making it extremely difficult for advertisers within its ecosystem under the guise of ‘privacy’, is said to be developing its own demand-side platform (DSP). According to industry news, the tech giant is seeking out a senior manager for a DSP in its ad platforms business, likely to be responsible for driving the design of ‘the most privacy-forward, sophisticated demand side platform possible.’

There are several things brands can learn from this. Firstly, there's a clear direction of travel for major media and tech firms, with hiring intelligence suggesting a scaling up and pivoting to creation of safe(r) demand-side offerings for brands. See also: Netflix now offering advertising within its lowest subscription tier.

Working with such third parties/DSPs addresses the issue at the heart of this debate, namely privacy and data security. They provide all the heavy lifting, security and privacy management for brands while delivering effective advertising opportunities for brands.

Context = accuracy

All of this may provide a better longer-term strategy to provide more contextual advertising to consumers, as studies show consumers are hungry for relevant and contextual advertising that matches the context of the platform and its content. The disparate nature of such environments may cause some complexities for advertisers but ultimately create more value for consumers and increase return on ad spend.

In the race to build first-party data offerings, advertisers may have overlooked the growth of third-party data owners who have been making waves by building their own walled gardens (sophisticated demand-side platforms) which can be used by brands to reach consumers at the right time and place. The most pragmatic but overlooked way forward for brands is to work identify the best strategic partners and work with them to deliver effectively privacy-proof advertising.

In the near future, the role of marketing agencies is to focus on helping clients navigate the third-party data landscape in the short-term; finding the right partners, assessing risks and designing privacy-first (but highly effective) advertising campaigns.

For more on how the world of data-driven advertising and marketing is evolving, check out our latest Deep Dive.

Marketing Ad Spend B2B Marketing

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UNLIMITED is the UK’s leading conversion agency. Our mission is to create genuine business advantage for clients, and we do this by uncovering behaviour-led insights from our Human Understanding Lab.

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